Durbin proposes congressional campaign finance reform

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced a bill Wednesday that would reform the way congressional campaigns are financed.

“Without a fundamental reform of the way we finance campaigns, we cannot bring real reform to Capitol Hill,” Durbin said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

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Durbin said the Fair Elections Now Act would create a voluntary system that gives congressional candidates the option to receive federal grants, matching funds and television vouchers if they agree to limit their campaign fundraising to the amounts raised from small dollar donors plus matching contributions from the Fair Elections Fund. In the bill, a small donor donation is defined as $150 per election.

“Americans would be shocked if they knew how much time members of Congress and candidates seeking office must spend dialing for dollars and attending fundraisers,” Durbin said. “This bill will give candidates the opportunity to focus on dealing with our nation’s problems, not on chasing after campaign cash.”

Under his bill, federal grants would vary depending on the population of the area that would be represented and participants would also receive a 6-to-1 match for small dollar donations up to a defined matching cap.

The bill would also create a tax credit for small donors to encourage political participation. An individual could receive a $25 tax credit, but only if they do not contribute more than $300 to a candidate or political party in any given year.

Durbin said the program would be paid for through a .05 percent fee on annual federal contracts of more than $10 million, with a maximum fee of $500,000 per year.

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